Life in the 1970s in Venice, California was all about roller skating and life on the beach was shown the Hollywood treatment in the musical Roller Boogie.
Starring Linda Blair and Jim Bray, who was a former competitive skate, the film showcases the world of roller skating. Blair plays Terry, a musician who dreams of going to Julliard to become better at playing the flute and become a professional musician. She comes from a wealthy family and lives in a snooty world of privilege.
Bray plays Tommy, an expert skater who dreams of winning the big competitions and being able to compete nationally and internationally. He works hard to save money and achieve his dreams, and his friends are beach bums, trying to make money to have some fun.
Their initial attraction is overcome by their friends, who don’t think the two of them should get together. They keep meeting up at the beach and eventually decide to become friends, and Tommy will teach Terry to roller skate at the beach hang out Jammers.
Meanwhile a developer has designs on Jammers to redevelop the land – which causes Tommy and Terry to try to figure out how to achieve their dreams – and save Jammers.
Directed by Mark Lester, this movie was released at the end of the disco era in 1979, trying to capitalize on the boogie craze of the time period. The choreography focused on the trending styles of dance of the time – and a double soundtrack LP was focused on sharing the sounds to all those movie fans.
Teenagers loved the film when it was released in December 1979 before Christmas, and the film grossed over US$13 million at the box office. Although there were plans for a sequel, Compass International scrapped the idea as the disco era faded in the early 1980s.
This cult classic was a film that captured the essence of the dance, roller skating and disco era – and paired it with classic songs like Boogie Wonderland from Earth, Wind and Fire. It may have gotten bad reviews, but it lives on as a snapshot of 1979.